Bike on a plane – cardboard box or hard case?

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  • Bike on a plane – cardboard box or hard case?
  • uplink
    Member

    I’ve used a box inside a bag for years without any problem

    I think it has more to do with how you pack it rather than what it’s in

    Premier Icon NZCol
    Subscriber

    I’ve used bike boxes, bags, bike boxes lined with Corflute and hard cases.

    I now only use my hard case. The way i see it is my bike is worth a lot, i like it, the reason i am flying with it is that i want to use it at the other end. My serfas case means i know when i unpack it it will be usable. I’ve had various damage despite flying and packing bikes a lot. My bike + case is 25kg so i am just careful with what else i pack and normally have a 30kg limit anyway.

    There is no magic formula as it depends on how badly its handled in the airport.

    tinsy
    Member

    Not all carboard bike boxes are the same, I travelled twice, once with a specialized bike box, that was very sturdy and once with a BH bike box, that wasnt so sturdy and took some reinforcing with duct tape..

    2 big advantages on using a carboard box, A) its free, B) it doesnt get in your way the next 50 weeks when your not travelling.

    Depends on what bike your putting in it as to wether your going to go over your weight limit, I also put my pads and as much kit in the bike box as possible to help pad the bike out a bit, but another school of thought is to keep your kit seperate in case the box doesnt show up.

    Some remove discs off the wheels too but I didnt bother with that and had no problems.

    Take care packing it get a decent cardboard box and you shouldnt have too many problems.

    Another tip is to put some tie down straps around the box to help you move it about. (if I get chance to travel again I might even fashion some kind of castor on the bottom so it rolled)

    Check in is no problem, it doesnt go through the normal check in, they will direct you to an oversized luggage place and take it from you there.

    Free Box.
    Big roll of duct tape.
    Tie down straps.

    stumpy01
    Member

    I’s go for a box within a bag. You might have to cut it down to get it to fit, but it will add a decent amount of rigidity to the bag & protect the bike a bit better, as well as making the bag easier to manouevre.

    There are some bags (I think they are black dhb bags) that are HUGE, and only just go through the oversize luggage conveyor (at Stansted & Granada) so I would steer clear of them.
    I got a Brand-X bag from CRC with wheel bags for £50 or so. It’s the same as their own brand bag & seems to be holding up ok.

    To dismantle the bike I remove the discs & skewers from the wheels, handlebar from the stem, rear mech & hanger, let air out of the shock & fork & let a lot out of the tyres too but leave enough in so the rim doesn’t get dinked.
    Then everything gets wrapped in either bubble wrap, foam or pipe lagging with the thick decorators masking tape so it comes off nice & easy.

    Taking my bike on a flight soon so picked up a carboard box from my local shop, but looking at it I’m not so sure it’ll be up to the job considering baggage handlers and I’ve got connecting flights … so what do you use, any experience with cardboard boxes – has it got there ok and in one piece or come out on the luggage turnstiles in bits and pieces, and any problems at check-in as the box seems quite big?

    Or, cough up for a hard case – but these seem almost as heavy as the bike so might get excess baggage?

    Not sure about the soft/padded type bags, seems to me it’ll get damaged/bent bits easier in one of those?

    Mmm, the box I got was a Giant box and seems a bit flimsy, there’s a Specialized Cannondale dealer a bit further away I might try there and see if their boxes are better? I was going to reinforce it with plenty of duct tape, roll up some carboard to put across from side to side to help prevent crushing and thought about getting some long cargo straps too?

    Think my limit is 35kg, but I’ll have a large bag to check in too as it’s about a 4 week trip, heard a few nightmare stories about excess baggage charges – $200 was one story I read, and you’ll pay whatever they say really as you want your stuff to get there.

    ‘Box inside a bag’ – are the padded bags big enough to fit a normal bike box inside?

    stumpy01
    Member

    WIth my bag, I had to cut the box down to get it to fit, so it’s more like a sleeve within the bag.
    I would imagine that a cardboard box would be punctured a lot easier than a bag though so I wouldn’t use a box on it’s own.

    Make sure that you go to a bike shop & get the plastic braces that go across the fork legs (in the dropouts) and the rear triangle (again, in the dropouts) to stop the frame getting crushed/skewed.

    Premier Icon ourmaninthenorth
    Subscriber

    ‘Box inside a bag’ – are the padded bags big enough to fit a normal bike box inside?

    I recently borrowed a mate’s DHB bag where he had done just that. Fitted fine and my road bike survived unscathed at each end.

    cynic-al
    Member

    I don’t see how a bike in a box in a bag is any better protected than one properly packed in a padded bag.

    FWIW I use an unpadded bag with some cardboard packing. I might upgrade to a padded bag. Hard cases seem heavy, unwieldy and expensive to me.

    tinsy
    Member

    Kojak, yes try the Spesh box, it was certainly a lot better than the otherone I had… The little plastic braces stumpy is on about is a very good idea.

    This type of strap is the one to go for, not the ones with hooks, and I use mine for all sorts all year around so worth having about.

    If I wasnt so tight I guess I would have bought a dedicated bike carrying bag or box, but it can be done in reasonable safety the pikey way.

    twohats
    Member

    Cardboard boxes are fine, but the last thing you want, if you are using one, is for your carefully packed and reinforced box to be left for an hour or so in torrential rain on the tarmac before being put on the plane. At the other end of the flight, 1st your clothes come down the conveyor belt, followed by a wheel, then some riding kit, a helmet…
    Seen the above happen to a fellow passenger on the arrival in Geneva, and on a different flight with mates.

    Proper padded bike bag or hard case every time for me.

    I think it has more to do with how you pack it rather than what it’s in

    Yep, a well packed bike with minimal padding is much better than a shoddy packed bike and tons of padding.

    Premier Icon FuzzyWuzzy
    Subscriber

    The choice is simple; cheap but risk of damaging your bike or expensive but you know your bike is safe (save from it falling out of the plane mid flight). I’ve travelled fine with cardbox boxes and padded bags before but also had damage on other occasions, now I’d only travel with a hardcase as if I’m flying with my bike chances are it’s key to the holiday so why risk it? It’s also nice being able to wait for your case to come through without wincing thinking about what damage could have been done, or panicking when you see bits of punctured or ripped cardboard :p
    The only reason I can see for travelling without a hardcase is if you only have the bike for transport at the destination and you need something that’s packable or binnable.

    Premier Icon ourmaninthenorth
    Subscriber

    I don’t see how a bike in a box in a bag is any better protected than one properly packed in a padded bag.

    While my bike was also padded and properly packed in the box in the bag, the extra rigidity of the box did mean that when I saw it laid flat on the baggage truck, I didn’t worry so much about the suitcases piled on top of it….

    I’m kinda leaning towards the box in a bag idea – didn’t consider the box being left to the elements if delayed or something, corrugated cardboard isn’t the strongest of stuff when it’s wet!

    Isn’t there anyone that does a sort of rigid bag, something with strong sides rather than just foam padding?

    Seen hard cases for about £130 so tempted but it’s the extra weight that puts me off, and what to do with it at the other end could be something to consider in the future, I go on a couple of organised trips a year where they carry your kit but it might think it a pain with something that size.

    peachos
    Member

    wrap your box in cling film

    ‘cling film’ bet if I did that customs/security would want to open it 😆

    on a trip last year one person just wrapped their bike up in a big plastic bag, only took the pedals off, and they said it got where it was going fine … but it was a beat up old tourer though.

    peachos
    Member

    haha, good point. carry a spare roll in case then. you’ll probably get stopped for that too though!

    uplink
    Member

    ‘cling film’ bet if I did that customs/security would want to open it

    Lots of airports have kiosks that cling film yours bags [for a fee]

    stumpy01
    Member

    Don’t bother taking GT85 with you. I stuck a can into my bike bag (taped inside the rear triangle) and when they x-rayed it at Stansted they saw an aerosol & took it out.

    Said I couldn’t take it because of the flammable warnings on the outside. They couldn’t answer why it is possible to take deodorant in an aerosol in your hold luggage with the same warning symbol. Just mumbled about oil being flammable & I didn’t want to push the issue as I thought they might decide to do a more thorough search.

    I took some the previous yr with no bother.

    DickBarton
    Member

    I’ve got bike bags and bike boxes – so far, the bike bags have been the safest way to transport the bikes…the bike boxes were dropped (from the plane) and damaged/cracked…bikes were fine (apart from loosing brake pads), but boxes were humped.

    Bike bags fold away smaller than the bike box and tends to be handled with a bit more care (in my experience)…I believe a cardboard box ensures even more careful handling…issues seems to be with handlers in the UK as once outwith the UK, the baggage handlers seem to be very careful…

    theres another recent thread about the merits of bags vs boxes etc, with some useful content.

    NZCol you must have a light bike (road?) or a light hard case to come in to a combined weight of 25kgs- do you know what the case weighs out of interest? I’ve used a padded bag for 8 years, at least one trip a year and in that time had a bent rotor (now take em off) and, er, I think thats it.

    Used a hardcase I hired once in the US. As it was so big, bulky and heavy I watched the baggage handler sling it out of the hold, where it fell 10 feet onto the conveyor belt for the bag truck. Never used a hard case again!

    If i had a light/fragile/expensive road bike I might consider a hard case, as it is I use my padded bag for my burly full sus MTB, but will consider using bike boxes if the weight limits get any more marginal.

    AndyP
    Member

    having watched baggage handlers dealing with bikes, it’s a hard case every time.

    ti_pin_man
    Member

    your choice simply depends on your view of the risk. For example:

    is your precious very very precious / cant do without it the other end – hard case

    is it precious but only precious – bike bag well packed

    is it important by replaceable – cardboard box

    is it not very precious – deflate tyres and give it to the oversize luggage guys

    I’ve seen all the above and dont think the packaging matters as baggage handlers will do what they do. I’ve had hard cases broken by BA, boxes soaked and torn. Now I wouldnt fly my bike anywhere without a hardcase. Too precious about my precious.

    As Cilla once said, the choice is yours ;o)

    Most airlines look more favourably on you if you tell them up front about the bike coming with you on the flight.

    Premier Icon NZCol
    Subscriber

    Munque-chick – nah not really either. Its a Ti 29er not exactly mega light or anything, and its a normal Serfas case which weighs maybe 10-12kg i think. I havent done anything to it other than not worry about the small rubber feet that have fallen off over the years ! Sitting at Edinburgh airport and it was just weighed at 24.1kg and that included 2 large Tommy K plastic bottles in there + helmet + gloves and assorted paraphenalia. I thought that was quite light too but it just seems to be what it weighs.
    When i pack it i have to take th forks off cos its a bit big, pedals, bars, lag the whole thing, mech off inside rear triangle, brace front and rear – thats it. Only takes 10-15 mins to pack and unpack. Although takes 2+ hours to clean the bluddy thing to a operating theatre spec to get it back into NZ 😉
    I paid $200 for my serfas case which was a total bargain – its a sort of communal case now as everyone uses it and it would be a pretty special person that can break it !

Viewing 24 posts - 1 through 24 (of 24 total)

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